Encourage Daily Campaign

Remember The Woman at the Giant? I hope you do, and if not I encourage you to read her story. She quite possibly changed the outcome of my summer this year.

See, I was in a bit of a funk. I can't really describe it in any other way, but I was struggling with finding a true purpose. As Mr. C has transitioned from the infant to toddler years (For the record, I'm pretty sure his Pediatrician called him a preschooler at his two year check up. And I almost hit the floor.), I'm struggling finding a vision and direction for which way I want to go. Right now Mr. Kuda is probably thinking, "Back to work would be a good start," but we're not quite there yet :)

Something happened in the midst of her encouragement in that check-out line, as the tears were swelling up with frustration and worry and am-I-doing-this-mommy-thing-right. She sparked something in me, and I can't quite shake it.

Encouragement. This very thing is what has gotten me through the past year. Not only through those I've met and become close to, although those friendships have redefined me as a mom and a friend and a woman. No, it's been the casual remarks of strangers. The smile and a knowing nod of the mother who's already been through the trenches.

The other morning I was praying hard. Hands buried, eyes burning hard prayers. Lord, give me my path! I feel like I'm on the verge of something, God, but I just don't know what it is. And I am so frustrated!

And then He gave me the idea. To start a campaign. Of encouragement and paying it forward. Of moms and dads and grandmas and friends and neighbors.

Ok, great, Lord! You gave me an idea! And how in the world am I going to do that?

And then my feedly feed popped up The Nester's 31 Day writing challenge for October. And then a blogger friend of mine liked it on Facebook. And then someone else mentioned it in conversation. And then my feedly did something weird, and it popped up again in my feed.

I'm listening, Lord, and I'm trying to be obedient. Join me in thirty-one days of encouragement. Share who's encouraged you, who's inspired you, ways that you encourage your friends, family and neighbors.

Look out for my first post on Wednesday, October 1! You can find each day's post here, and it will also have links at the bottom to the previous posts of the months. If you'd like to subscribe by email so you get each post in your inbox, by all means, please do!

See you in October!

xoxo, k.


Five Minute Friday: Because

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...



It was 'red day.' As I came in to wake her, I paused to capture the memory of stuffed animals surrounding her head, the comforter pulled up to her chin, and the wavy mess of hair across her forehead. I brushed her hair aside. It's time to wake up honey. It's red day! It's going to be a great day!

She promptly rolled over (catching glimpses of her teenage years), and with a waiver of tears in her throat she curtly stated, "I am not wearing red. It is not red day for me."

Shocked at the non-conformist reaction to red day, my face burned and I tried my hardest not to let the anger push past my lips. "But everyone will be wearing red, Miss E. You need to wear red."

"I don't like red. I am not wearing red. I want to be different."

I couldn't let it go. I didn't force her to wear red, but I couldn't let her be. I kept reminding her what everyone else would be doing. I forced a red sweatshirt on her brother, and even grabbed a red shirt for her school tote, telling her that if she changed her mind she would have the option to change at school.

As we drove the 30 minutes to school, my heart was saddened as the usually rambunctious and chatty girl sat in the back seat silently, staring out the window. I had broken her spirit of individuality and independence that morning. And I needed to fix it.

"Miss E, I am sorry. I should not have made you feel bad for not wearing red. I am proud of your decision this morning, and I'm proud that you stuck up for yourself. That was a brave thing to do. I love that you want to be different today."

She smiled at me in the rearview mirror.

Because I let my own insecurities get in the way, my own fears of rejection because of my differences, I almost let her go to the same place I go. I almost let her believe that it's not ok to be different.

But she is fearfully and wonderfully made, and because God was able to show me this glimpse of His mercy and grace, I was able to see past my own fears and insecurities. And because of this otherwise ordinary morning, a three year old changed the way I look at what it means to be comfortable in her own skin. She stuck up for herself against her own momma, and I could not have been more proud.


Thanks for reading today! In case you're not familiar, next week (on October 1), I'll be venturing into an unknown territory: writing for 31 days straight on one topic. I'll continue with the Five Minute Friday prompts throughout the month, but I will try to stay on my theme of the month: Finding ways to Encourage Others Daily. I hope you'll join me on my adventure!

Until next time,
Mrs. Kuda


Tot School: Letter T

(Miss E ~ 46 months)
(Mr. C ~ 24 months)

Linking up over at the Tot School Gathering Place!

I don't know about y'all, but we're finally getting into the swing of things as far as the new school year goes. Adding a few new activities has definitely been an adjustment, but we're getting there! And naps. Naps are still few and far between, but they're there, hiding intermittently throughout the week. What a difference a nap makes!

This week, we celebrated the Letter T! Mr. C is probably into every stereotypical toy/topic that your average two year old boy would enjoy, so T made him oh so happy! Since sister loves her brother so, she was happy to oblige.

We started off the week with trucks and trains, galore! I try to rotate toys a little bit as to keep things new, so knowing the letter T was coming, these had been put away for a few weeks. They were so excited to have the train set out again! We have both the Conductor Carl and Thomas the Train sets, and they love to have the trains mingle :)

Y'all. Both kids INDEPENDENTLY set up the train set this week. I was doing dishes, and they did this themselves! Miss E actually sang a song about the letter T, and I about fell on the floor. It was a great day.

Both kiddos are really into do-a-dots right now, so it was a perfect way to start on our table top activities.

Mr. C celebrated his second birthday, and got some AWESOME toys and books that fit right in with our theme! A friend (who is very familiar with this boy's love language of all things that go) gave Mr. C Sally Sutton's Roadwork, and the corresponding CAT mini-machines. We matched the corresponding trucks to each part of the story, and Miss E acted them out.  It was such a fun change to our typical Tot School day :)

Yes. That is my foot.

Both kiddos are still really into table top tasks, so I try to take advantage of it. Miss E did the letter maze, while Charlie used letter T stampers.

She worked so hard to make a pattern (blue, purple, pink) with her stickers.

Both kids worked well together using play dough to make our letter of the week. I used this time to review last week's letter, as well.

We're still working on cutting, and finding better ways to cater to each child's skills. Miss E cuts out the animals for our letter T, and Mr. C practices with strips of construction paper.

We're still working on shapes, too, so we used another of Mr. C's birthday gifts (Melissa and Doug's Pattern Blocks) in our Tot School time. This was another great activity for some independence! Miss E actually started a game, shouting out shapes to Mr. C, and they were giggling all the way. So fun!

That was our week! Hope you enjoyed how we explored the letter T. See you next week!

xoxo, k.


Mr. C and the big Two

I had this big post planned (and mostly written) to finish up editing this morning and post. It was about the day Mr. C was born with the ridiculousness that was my labor (Five hours from start to finish. I was in denial. It was, as previously stated, ridiculous.). BUT. As I sat down to finish everything up and click "publish," I was struck with something...

An overwhelming sense of prayer. What do I want for him as he grows older? What kind of heart are we instilling in him? And, this is the scary one, are we demonstrating those things for him so that he has good examples?

Oh, this parenting thing. So much pressure!

Dear Charlie,

Oh, my dear boy, how you've rocked our world! You are curious and smart. You are kind and funny. You have a temper, but you (usually) change your tune quickly. You have changed every ounce of my expectations for what it is to be a mom of a boy. And it is amazing and challenging and I try my best to enjoy every single second of it.

Charlie, we pray that you'll be strong and that you'll try to do the right things. That you'll never be afraid to say you're sorry or to forgive others. We pray that you'll never take yourself too seriously, and that you'll see the bright side of things. We pray that you'll love God first, so that you can show others what true love is. We pray that you and Miss E will be the best of friends till the end, and even when you don't like each other much, that you'll still be each other's partner in crime.

In the end, it doesn't matter what you grow up to be, or how much money you make. It's who you love. Your family, your friends, your neighbors. Even strangers. We pray that you'll love others as your love yourself. And we pray that we can do that, too, so you know what it looks like as you grow.

We are so thankful to have you, sweet boy. Happy second birthday!

Love, Momma and Daddy (or "dah-DEE!")


Five Minute Friday: Hold

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...



I can't remember the last time I did this. Put things on hold. Patiently waited for the next thing to come.

Graduate high school. Graduate college. Get a job? No. Graduate graduate school. Get a job. Get married. Have children. Buy a house. Move. Buy another house. Move.


On hold. Time to breathe in the fresh air of giggles and runny noses and silly stories and middle of the night need for snuggles.

Pause. Notice the sun filtering in through the acred trees. The way she holds his hand to make sure he doesn't stumble. His immediate apology when he's wronged her in some way, by means of a tight squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.

Wait. Enjoy the extra few minutes of sweet baby sleep, sipping coffee, smelling the quiet of the morning.

All of our lives are meant to keep moving forward, looking toward the next best thing. But I want to be on hold. I want them to stay right here where I have them, holding them in the palm of my hands, being a part of their every day, every moment.




Tot School: Letter L

(Miss E ~ 46 months)
(Mr. C ~ 23 months)

Linking up over at the Tot School Gathering Place!

Hello, hello!

So, this is actually our second week of Tot School this school year, but Blogger and I had a fight with last week's post, and Blogger won. I've decided to just move on :)

Mr. C is so much more into the structured activities I've planned each week than I ever imagined. He's been a bit slower to talk than his sister was at this age, so unfortunately that means that sometimes I underestimate the full extent of his capabilities. It has been so much fun to watch him!

Our room was set up with all things L, including the kiddo's reading nook. We LOVE going to the library each week to pick out our books for the week's Tot School letter. This week was no exception. Since our letter L focus was on lions, llamas and leaves, our books went along with the theme.

A favorite was Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. Since the weather has been oh, so nice, we headed outside to collect items for our very own leaf man.

Miss E gave hers a walking stick, just like the one she likes to use when she goes for a hike :)

In addition to letter-focused printables found here, Miss E has been using the Kumon workbooks for writing and cutting. She's been SO into figuring out sounds of letters and trying to write them, so I thought I'd capitalize on it!

To keep her thumb up, I draw a smiley face on her thumb nail as a reminder. Works like a charm! I think I learned the trick from 1plus1plus1equals1.net:)

Back when Mr. C was a wee one, we did a whole week focused on The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We took out a few of those activities, since the caterpillar eats leaves. Of course!

There you have it! A fun, but VERY busy week. Fall always brings out the craftiness in me, so be on the look out for some fun crafty-crafts soon!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Five Minute Friday: Whisper

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...



It's been a while since I've done Five Minute Friday. I can't be exactly sure of the reason, but I do have a guess. It's the little whisper telling me no. No, you can't write. No, your blog won't reach anyone. No, you're not a good mom, a good wife, a good friend.

But my yes is becoming bigger. Louder. Stronger. The more I throw my faith to the wind and hurl my worries aside, the more I am able to clearly see the path directly in front of me. And that path does not include fear. It squelches the subtle whisper of doubt and unease and no-you-can'ts so that it barely makes a sound.

It's still there. But I know that I have been put here in this place at such a time as this, and it is meant for good. And encouraging. And sharing. And being a light in this place that can be so dark.


Well, I probably didn't intend to get so deep, but that's what five minutes under the gun will do to you!

Hop on over to see the other brave women baring it all for Five Minute Friday!


Mrs. Kuda


Summer in Review

When I wrote my rules for summer way back in June, I thought I was so cutting edge. I threw away my routine, opened the doors, said "yes," and we had a great summer. Like, really great. For fun on this first week back to school (which is technically still summer, so I refuse to acknowledge fall is here. But that's really for two reasons: That means Mr. C turns 2 and Miss turns 4, and I just can't really handle that truth right now), let's take a look at how we did with following my "rules," shall we?

As 'cutting edge' I thought I was, and as much fun as we did have, I'm quite sure I underestimated my need for routine and planning, even through the summer. That being said, let's go through the list and see how it went...

Throw Away the Schedule
All right. I like a routine. Like, I actually write everything I need to do each day, including "Do Laundry" and "Vacuum," and I review it each day to make sure I'm on track. Don't believe me?

And I cross off things as they happen. Seriously.
There you have it. That being said, we had so many fun days of just wearing pj's till noon, playing without direction, and getting up and going on a whim. Was it fun? YES. Am I ready for schedules and routines and regular activities throughout the week? YES. I. AM.

The best part of all of this, was that I learned that Miss E is exactly the same way. Mr. C? Couldn't care less. But my girl and I are cut from the same cloth. I found on the weeks she had activities scheduled (we did a ballet camp and a few swim camps), our days just ran more smoothly. I guess my girl and I just had a better sense of purpose when there was something predetermined.

Less structure meant more time for reading here...

And here...

And left room for "hair dresser shop." Mr. C loved it.

Try to Say 'Yes' More
I'm going to give myself an A for effort on this one. Throwing away the schedule helped me say 'yes' way more than I normally would have, and at the same time it helped me realize that I really do restrict what the kiddos do just so it makes my life easier. That is not what I want them to remember when they're older. I want them to remember the little things momma did to make them feel special. And sometimes that means ice cream right before bed or another episode of Super Why. Because, why not? It was summer!

"Can we stop by the beach on our way home?" YES.

"Can we go up on the rocks?" YES.

"Want to go on a tour of the Capitol Building?" No brainer! YES!

Read More Books
Well, I joined a book club. So that helped. But I actually read WAY more than I have since the kids came along. It was great. Highs included Jillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, as well as What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I also read The Vacationers by Emma Straub which was just meh for me. I keep reading and re-reading Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion, and I cannot get enough of it. Like, really. And right now I'm finishing up Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, and it's pretty gripping. Yay for book clubs! Ours has definitely helped to get me back in the game.

Go Outside. A lot.
All right. We're going to divide the summer into two parts for this one. We played in the pool, we played with rocks and went for walks, and we even camped for three nights over Labor Day weekend. BUT. Somewhere toward the end of July, the bees and wasps and GIGANTIC EUROPEAN HORNETS took over our yard, and it just wasn't fun to be outside while home. To give an example, when we got home from camping last weekend, the hornets started PELTING OUR CAR. And when Mr. Kuda sprayed that day, there were over THREE DOZEN hornets forever asleep on our front porch the next morning.

Yeah. We were done with outside. At our house, at least.

We did the best we could, and while we spent less and less time outside near our home, when I look back at our summer this year, I'll have so many sweet memories...

I learned a lot about myself this summer, and I'll probably do some things differently next year, but for now I'm going to enjoy the memories we made, and look forward to the upcoming year ahead of us. I mean, do you think she's excited enough to be starting PreK?

Just as a side note, we'll be starting up Tot School again, now that Mr. C is old enough. As I started to plan for this year, I hadn't realized how much I missed doing it last year. SO EXCITED!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda
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